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Platelet activity and cardiovascular risk in apparently healthy individuals: a review of the data

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Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Numerous risk scores exist to identify healthy individuals at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Although platelets are a key mediator in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease, the role of platelet activity measurements and the incidence of cardiovascular disease are uncertain. Platelet aggregometry—the most well studied method of platelet function testing—is associated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease. However, data supporting platelet aggregation and incident cardiovascular disease is conflicting. Plasma markers of platelet activation are promising candidates. Soluble CD40L and P-selectin are easily measured with a standardized ELISA, and there is some data to suggest an association with cardiovascular disease, but further studies are required. While mean platelet volume is a promising candidate, platelet count and bleeding time are not specific for platelet activity nor are they associated with cardiovascular disease in a healthy population. For this field to progress, we recommend large-scale, prospective studies that measure a battery of these platelet function tests in individuals without cardiovascular disease to better understand the associations, if any, between platelet activity and cardiovascular disease.

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Dr Berger was partially funded by an American Heart Association Fellow to Faculty Award (0775074N) and a Doris Duke Clinical Scientist Award.

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Correspondence to Jeffrey S. Berger.

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Sharma, G., Berger, J.S. Platelet activity and cardiovascular risk in apparently healthy individuals: a review of the data. J Thromb Thrombolysis 32, 201–208 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11239-011-0590-9

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  • Platelet activity
  • Platelet aggregation
  • Mean platelet volume
  • Cardiovascular risk factor